Erosion Control at Construction Sites: The Science-Policy Gap

Environ Manage. 2000 Jul;26(1):89-97. doi: 10.1007/s002670010073.


/ To test the effectiveness of Michigan's soil erosion control law, 30 construction sites were evaluated in the east-central part of the state. The analytical framework lumped nine best management practices (BMPs) most closely related to the law into three categories: slope stabilization, soil stabilization, and water management. All sites were in the land clearing or foundation/framing stage of construction and were evaluated within 2 days after a rainfall event. Only four of the sites performed above the mean of the scoring scale, with the categorical scoring of BMPs indicating the worst performance for slope stabilization measures. The poor results suggest a failure to integrate scientific knowledge of erosion control with policy. A fundamental problem is the lack of basic site data on soil, topography, and hydrology, resulting in the incorrect application of BMPs, such as staging, filter fences, and berms. The current institutional framework for soil erosion control also provides disincentives to mitigate local erosion problems.